Open Online Courses

Our short, open-access online courses give everyone a chance get an introductory taste of learning at the University of Sheffield - all you need is an internet connection to access.

The University of Sheffield is continuing to remove the barriers to higher education for people around the world with new and exciting online courses that are free and accessible to all. The courses are all published on FutureLearn, the first UK-led open online course learning platform and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Open University.

As a learner, you can choose any course that interests you and explore the subject through a blend of videos, articles, discussions, group work, peer review and interactive activities. Whether for a taste of subjects beyond your degree, to supplement your existing studies, for evidence of continuing professional development or just for fun, you can study at a pace that suits you.

The online courses we create at Sheffield are academic/expert-led and showcase what we do best as an institution. We have reached nearly half a million people from over 180 different countries, giving them a chance to interact with others from around the world and connect with world-leading authorities in their subject. Courses have varied widely in their aims; from enhancing the learning experience of current students, to widening participation, promoting public engagement with research and encouraging new applications to the University.


Technical Report Writing for Engineers

Find out how to communicate your ideas through well-written engineering reports

Technical reports are a vital tool for engineers to communicate their ideas. This online course introduces technical report writing and teaches the techniques you need to construct well-written engineering reports.

Each week, we look at a key section of a technical report and the skills needed to write it. You'll cover areas such as referencing and citations; presenting equations, diagrams and data; and using language and tenses correctly. 

 We also talk to practising engineers, as well as students and educators who write and mark technical reports, who'll give hands-on advice. 

Find out more and sign-up

Forensic Facial Reconstruction: Finding Mr. X

Learn about the forensic technique of facial reconstruction from the experts involved in a real crime case

On Saturday 22 January 2000, two men found a small holdall, abandoned on an industrial estate in the north of Sheffield. Upon opening the bag they made a gruesome discovery. A badly decomposed body.

Who was this person? Why did they die? Where had the body been stored all of this time?

On this course, you’ll learn alongside the experts who worked to determine the identity of Mr. X. You’ll discover the forensic science techniques that were used to identify the body and understand the circumstances surrounding their death.

View an example step from the course, Applying the muscles of the face, here.

Find out more and sign-up

The Musculoskeletal System: the Science of Staying Active into Old Age

Demystify the ageing process and how our everyday behaviours and choices affect our long-term musculoskeletal health

This course has been developed by the MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Integrated research into Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA), a collaboration between the Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle. Each institution holds world-leading expertise in areas of musculoskeletal ageing and together, within the CIMA collaboration, their expertise cover a broad spectrum of musculoskeletal health.

View an example step from the course, What is the musculoskeletal system?, here. 

Find out more and sign-up

How to Succeed in the Global Workplace

Get off to a great start in your new job by learning the essential skills to succeed in a global workplace 

The British Council and The University of Sheffield have teamed up to help you succeed when you enter the workplace. Beginning your career or starting a new job brings to mind lots of questions, so we’ve designed a course to guide you through those initial weeks and months so you can make a really positive start to your career. 

View an example step from the course, Cultural oceans, here.

Find out more and sign-up

Building a Future with Robots

Explore the role of robots and autonomous systems in the factories, homes, hospitals, schools or cars of our near future

Led by a team of academics from the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, the course provides learners with behind-the-scenes access to some of the most innovative research at Sheffield Robotics as experts demonstrate different robotic solutions for some of the world's most pressing needs. We'll look into what factories of the future will look lie, how we might use robots to help care for an aging population, how robots might be used in classrooms, how driverless cars will change the way we travel and much more.


View an example step from the course, Using mind control to empower those with disabilities, here. 

Find out more and sign-up

Health Technology Assessment: Choosing Which Treatments Get Funded

Before new drugs or treatments are adopted, their effectiveness and cost must be assessed

Have you ever wondered why some drugs are made available to patients via healthcare services such as the NHS, while others are not? Join experts from the School of Health and Related Research who will look at how healthcare organisations make decisions about whether we should have access to certain treatments, focusing on a key part of the information used to make these decisions - Health Technology Assessment (HTA). 

View an example step from the course, What is HTA?, here.

Find out more and sign-up

Making Sense of Data in the Media

Learn how to make sense of social statistics and economic data with this introductory course on quantitative social science

The course is led by a team of experts from The Sheffield Methods Institute at the University of Sheffield - one of 15 centres charged by the Q-Step Programme with improving British social science undergraduates' quantitative skills. Between them, they have considerable expertise in the use and analysis of social data, and in teaching data literacy and analysis skills in an accessible, engaging yet rigorous way.


View an example step from the course, Drawing a sample, here.

Find out more and sign-up

Crime, Justice and Society

Explore the role of the state and criminal justice interventions in producing safe and just societies

On this course you'll join a team of specialists from the Centre for Criminological Research in the School of Law to explore, debate and research subjects such as crime and criminal justice; policing; victims and victim support; restorative justice; prisons and confinement; community sanctions; and desistance.

View an example step from the course, What is criminology?, here.

Find out more and sign-up

Exploring Play: The importance of play in every day life

Understanding the nature and value of play through the course of our lives, across cultures and communities

Play can seem to be a spontaneous and natural part of life, taking little effort and requiring little thought. In this course we aim to persuade you that, to the contrary, play is immensely varied, important and complex across the whole span of our lives.

View an example step from the course, Definitions of play, here.

Find out more and sign-up

Measuring and Valuing Health

Learn how Patient Reported Outcome Measures and Quality Adjusted Life Years can compare treatments and inform healthcare spending

Healthcare systems around the world are increasingly under pressure to fund drugs, treatments and other healthcare interventions. No-one has the money or resources to provide them all, so how do we decide which ones to fund?

View an example step from the course, Valuing health states in practice, here.

Find out more and sign-up

How to Write Your First Song

Get a practical introduction to the mechanics of songwriting and meet established songwriters

Ever wanted to write a song, but not known how? This course gives you the practical and theoretical understanding you need to create a finished song of your own.

View an example step from the course, Looking inside a song, here.

Listen to learner submissions of their versions of 'My Town' on Soundcloud here.

Find out more and sign-up

Literature of the English Country House

A journey through the literature of English country houses from the time of Thomas More to Oscar Wilde

On this course, you’ll investigate and discuss the role and representation of the English country house in literature, and learn how to build your own authoritative interpretation of these texts.

View an example step from the course, Material Conditions: The rise of the novel, here.

Read through The School of English companion blog to Literature of the English Country House here.

Find out more and sign-up

Discover Dentistry 

An entertaining and illuminating course for everyone to explore the impact dentistry has on our lives

How important is a smile? Ever wondered what all those letters and numbers a dentist calls out during your check-up mean? How are broken teeth fixed, or how dentures are made? Join Dr Christopher Stokes from the School of Clinical Dentistry and go on a learning journey to explore the dental profession and the impact dentistry has on all our lives.

View an example step from the course, Kitchen experiments part 1: Dental materials, here.

Find out more and sign-up

How to Succeed at: Writing Applications and Interviews

The "How to Succeed at" series give learners practical tips for making effective applications and securing your dream job or course place at interview

These complementary three-week courses from the Careers Service provide the tools and techniques you need to produce a perfect CV, application and online profile, and succeed at interviews, whether you are applying for jobs or planning to study. 

View an example step from the course, Improve your digital footprint, here.

Find out more and sign-up